Friday, August 14, 2009

Gifford, Bierstadt and New Hampshire.

Sanford Gifford 1823-1889 A Mountain Lake images

Gifford, a civil war vet, traveled New England and then the world in search of subjects. Malaria acquired in Syria probably was the cause of his death. Giffords work is characterized by a soft, glowing light in which the forms nearly dissolve.

I would like to speak briefly about the New Hampshire connection. New Hampshire is presently my home. It is, I guess, nearly forgotten how important New Hampshire's White Mountains were in the middle of the 19th century as a painting destination for the Hudson River school artists. It is also ALL still there, and pretty much unchanged since they painted it. I have myself found numerous painting locations in those mountains that were painted by Gifford and Bierstadt.In 1839 and 55 and 57 Asher Durand visited the White mountains with Kensett and Casilear. In 1853 Benjamin Champney, Samuel Coleman, his brother in law Aaron Draper Shattuck and Sanford Gifford visited Conway, located in ther valley below Mt. Washington. In 1852 Bierstadt was painting there too. Jasper Cropsey and Jervis McEntee were also there that summer. Inness kept a studio in North Conway for several years in the mid 1870's.

In the mid 1850's guidebooks to the White Mountains appeared and the valley of Mount Washington filled with visiting artists.

The Bierstadt above is a place called Emerald Pool which is above the Saco river near Mt Washington.

Here is Bierstadts view of the Ledges on Moat Mountain. I painted this location a couple of years ago. It is still very accessible and is close to North Conway. The tree line is a lot closer in and the meadows are much smaller now, but otherwise the view is the same. Thats one of the nice things about the natural views in our national parks, they are not much changed since the 19th century. Urban scenes like the waterfront in Gloucester are completely gone.

Above is a view painted not in the White Mountains but in the American West, at Landers peak in Wyoming. In 1865 Bierstadt sold this painting for 25,000 Dollars. Bierstadt immigrated to The United States from Germany. He was enormously successful in the hey day of the Hudson river school. However later in life his enormous canvases fell out of favor as they were perceived to be overly dramatic.

I would also like to note the death of Les Paul, 1915-2009, inventor of the electric guitar and also multi track recording. Les Paul was inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame by Jeff Beck in 1988.


Unknown said...

my former les paul classic guitar weeps....

hey...i saw the big bierstadt retro at the de young museum a while back. i think i saw the wyoming painting said...

Hi Stapleton,
I agree that there is starting to be a shift towards "Beauty". How can anyone not be moved by tese beautifully painted and beautifull paintings that you have posted. Now, beauty is different for different people. For some it will be colors and for others designs,landscapes etc. But the seismic shift I feel is in the business of contemporary art and getting wok out there, in the hands of buyers, appreciators and collectors. I think that job is shifting away from galleries and landing on the artists themselves.

Philip Koch said...

Thanks for the post Stapleton. The one time I tried to paint the White Mountains I was frustrated to discover how hard it is now to find open vistas. I'm sure they are there, but my guess is with so many of the 19th century family farms having failed and reverted to forest, there are fewer open spots than in the Hudson River School's hay day. Maybe you should publish a guide to where to set up one's easel to if you want to paint panorama's in New Hampshire. I know I'd buy a copy.

Thanks for the Sanford Gifford images- the National Gallery of Art did a beautiful survey show of his luminous paintings a few years ago. Had to go see it twice.

Robert J. Simone said...

Stape, the first Gifford shown is also at the Met. The photo really doesn't do it justice. The color in is so bright and the light so luminous...Great stuff. Thanks!

Stapleton Kearns said...

What a great museum the De Young is. I thoroughly enjoyed my one time I was there. My strat is feeling kind of smug, my Epiphone is just confused about how to feel.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Having had a Rockport gallery for so many years, I am comfortable enough with the idea of doing my own business, but I l;ike working with dealers too. All I want to do is paint, not chase after customers.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I wont be publishing any guides. But if you come up here I will show you a few I know. I am not an expert up there either, but I am learning. I know Maine much better.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I used an image from ARC, I have a book that has a great shot of that, but I haven't got a scanner happening yet. I do have photoshop now. I am recovering slowly from the laptop debacle.